ReFo: Panthers at Steelers, Preseason Week 4
The final games of the preseason get treated with a lot of ridicule and rightly so. I’ll be the first to admit they’re not the best spectacles for fans and feature some pretty wretched football at times. However they are vital for a whole bunch of roster bubble guys who are playing their hearts out if not to save their roster spot, then to make sure their most recent tape future employers will see is good.
In this game none of that made much difference to the score however as the Panthers came away with a 10-0 win, blanking the Steelers and with all of the scoring (all two of them) wrapped up by the end of the third quarter.
Still, let’s take a look at who stood out for better or worse.
Panthers – Performances of Note
Kelvin Benjamin, WR: -0.1
Breakdown: OK so Benjamin’s stats and grade don’t exactly fit the billing of standing out in either direction here. I thought it was noteworthy that he seemed to struggle to separate against defensive backs that were playing him physically without a major break in the route.
Signature Play: First Quarter, 13:47. Kelvin runs a post on this play and secures the ball before shaking cornerback Ike Taylor and diving forward for a couple of more yards.
Casey Walker, DT: +5.0
Breakdown: The one thing you want in an interior lineman is the ability to disrupt in all facets of the game. Walker split his beastly +5.0 grade between pass-rushing, run defending and even reading screens well to earn himself a little bump in coverage.
Signature Stat: Notched a sack and three more hurries for a total of four pressures on the day, precisely three more than any other interior lineman for the Panthers managed.
Starting Offensive Line Combined: -7.1
Breakdown: The starting linemen for the Panthers combined for 147 snaps in this game, and earned a collective -7.1 grade, without a single member grading positively overall. The offensive line is a question mark for the Panthers this season and this didn’t help alleviate anyone’s concerns.
Signature Play: Second quarter, 8:49. This play was a mess from start to finish with the shotgun snap being airmailed over the quarterback only for him to fail to recover the fumble. Pittsburgh outside linebacker Jarvis Jones recovered before Fernando Velasco put an end to his return (being called back anyway) by tackling him by the dreadlocks.
Steelers – Performances of Note
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR: +1.3
Breakdown: Heyward-Bey has had more than enough negative press from all corners so it seems only fitting to credit the man when he has a genuinely positive performance. Still not exactly catching with his hands, he is at least catching the ball, hauling in six of the eight balls sent his way for 44 yards.
Signature Play: Second quarter, 1:27. Working at left wide receiver against Josh Norman, Darrius goes up to catch a high pass on a hitch route to earn the first down on the play.
Will Simmons, OG: -5.7
Breakdown: It seems a shame to highlight Simmons who didn’t look bad in stretches, but his poor grade highlights a major issue with the Steelers backups on the line, going a long way to explaining the bagel the team notched on the scoreboard.
Signature Play: Fourth quarter, 7:27. This is a classic example of plays that won’t show up anywhere but the PFF grading. The ball is out quickly, but Simmons is on the wrong end of the bull rush and driven into the quarterback a split second after it is.
Dri Archer, RB: -1.5
Breakdown: The only issue with a guy the size of Dri Archer playing running back in the NFL is when you ask him to pass block. The Steelers did that here and he surrendered a hit and a hurry, essentially making up his entire negative grade overall.
Signature Play: Second quarter, 1:27. Here Archer tries to pick up the blitz by the linebacker, and correctly aims low, but missed the block entirely allowing his quarterback to get taken down just after the throw.
PFF Game Ball
There was no bigger standout performer from the game than Casey Walker, a disruptive force inside all game.
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